HC Deb 11 June 1998 vol 313 c1194
18. Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

If he will meet the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals to discuss problems faced by postgraduate researchers on temporary contracts. [43773]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment (Mr. Alan Howarth)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has not been approached by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals on this issue. He would, of course, consider carefully any representation that it wished to make.

Mr. Dalyell

Are temporary contracts a satisfactory way in which to reward researchers, who may be in their 40s and 50s and who have depended on this form of remuneration all their lives?

Mr. Howarth

My hon. Friend is well aware that this is a long-standing, very difficult and important problem. He will, I hope, at least share my pleasure that a concordat relating to contract researchers has been agreed between the CVCP, other bodies representing universities and colleges, the research councils, the British Academy and the Royal Society. The signatories are committed to improving the terms and conditions of employment of contract staff, to training and careers guidance, to appraising and reviewing their development and to the provision of maternity and long-term sickness benefit. A group has been established to monitor the concordat's implementation and to identify and encourage practice. It is chaired by Sir Gareth Roberts, whom my hon. Friend knows well. The group hopes to report in the autumn.